HIGH POINT, N.C. — The High Point University men’s basketball team clinched the 2013-14 Big South Regular Season Championship with a 56-53 win over Campbell on Friday night in front of 1,851 fans in the Millis Center. It’s HPU’s first outright Big South title in men’s basketball and secured HPU the No. 1 seed for the Big South Tournament.
High Point closed out the regular season with wins in 12 of its last 14 games, finishing with a 16-13 overall record and a guaranteed winning record. HPU finished 12-4 in Big South play, matching last year’s record. Campbell finished the regular season 12-19 overall and 6-10 in the Big South.
“I’m just really proud of these kids. They did all the work,” said HPU head coach Scott Cherry. “I’m really happy for the three seniors, they’ve been the foundation of the program for the last two years and taken us to a regular season co-championship last year and an outright championship this year.
“In this stretch of winning 12 of 14 games, the guys just believed in each other and put in a lot of hard work. It’s been a difficult year but we got our first goal. Now we’ve got to focus on our next goal of winning the Big South Tournament and getting to the NCAA Tournament.”
The Panthers will play in the Big South Tournament quarterfinals next Friday at noon in Myrtle Beach, S.C. HPU’s quarterfinal opponent will be decided on Saturday. With the win over Campbell, HPU earned the Big South’s automatic bid to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT).
Junior Devante Wallace recorded his second career double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds, shooting 6-for-9 from the floor and 4-for-6 from three-point range in the victory. Sophomore Lorenzo Cugini hit four three-pointers and scored 15 points and redshirt-sophomore John Brown scored 12 points with six rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
Campbell was led by three bench players as Luke Moyer hit four treys to score 16 points, and D.J. Mason and Kyre’ Hamer each scored 12. Mason had a game-high 12 rebounds.
The game was hotly contested the whole way, with 15 lead changes and five ties. Campbell led by four points (42-38) when Moyer hit a three-pointer, then hit a jumper with 13:09 remaining. Sophomore guard Adam Weary hit a three-pointer from the corner on the next play down the floor to get HPU within one before the game turned into a defensive battle. Six minutes later, HPU took a 51-49 lead on a Derrell Edwards jumper and there were just two field goals by each team in the final 5:33.
With the game tied at 51-51, Weary hit a jumper to put HPU ahead for good with 5:03 on the clock. A tip-in by Brown with 4:16 remaining was High Point’s final field goal, giving the Panthers a four-point lead. Moyer hit Campbell’s final basket, a jumper, with 3:29 to go. HPU forced Campbell to miss its final six field-goal attempts and Cugini hit an insurance free throw with four seconds remaining for the 56-53 final.
Brown had a pair of highlight-reel dunks in the second half, including an inbounds alley-oop (WATCH: http://youtu.be/dziTjVW52nw).
It was Senior Night for Edwards, Dejuan McGaughy and Allan Chaney. For Weary, it was his first game since Feb. 8 and he went 2-for-4 from the floor with a pair of assists. The attendance of 1,851 was a record high for the Millis Center under the current seating configuration (since 2008-09).
The Panthers have six days off before the quarterfinals of the Big South Tournament on Friday at noon. HPU will play the winner of the No. 4 South/No. 5 North game, which will be played on Wednesday.